Tue | Jun 25, 2019

Smelly & scary - Motorists, petroleum retailers worried about the foul odour of the gas they are purchasing

Published:Sunday | February 10, 2019 | 12:25 AM

There are growing fears that Jamaica could be facing another ‘bad gas saga’, as more and more motorists express concern about the smell of the gas they are receiving at the pumps.

According to the motorists who have complained toThe Sunday Gleaner, there is an extremely unpleasant smell from the gasolene they have purchased in recent weeks.

The motorists pointed to service stations in Kingston and St Andrew, Spanish Town and Portmore, St Catherine, as they charged that the smell overpowers them while filling up and lingers until the gas tank is empty.

ASunday Gleaner team visited one service station in Portmore where the foul smell remained in the car more than 24 hours after the gas was purchased.

Checks with a mechanic showed there was nothing defective with the vehicle, as he struggled to determine the reason for the lingering smell.

When our news team contacted the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA) President Gregory Chung, he said it had recently held a meeting with its members and has sent a letter to Petrojam Limited seeking answers about the smell.

“I checked with one of our directors who has a technical background, and he gave an explanation that, from time to time, based on the ethanol and what is the quality of it, it can create this high odour. But I want a direct answer from Petrojam,” said Chung.

He noted that some petroleum retailers have complained that they are also experiencing the strong smell of gas at their stations.

“Some retailers even spoke about the odour affecting them in the office in the actual gas stations like its travelling up the electronic conduit and sometimes in the office having this high smell,” added Chung.

JGRA is concerned

He said the JGRA is concerned about what is causing the smell and if it this is safe for consumers.

“So far I don’t hear of any problem with the performance (of the vehicles). As it is right now it’s an odour, it’s a nuisance, and I would want to ensure that it is not a safety issue in terms of you breathing it and its affecting your lungs or making you sick.

“Those are the concerns we have right now. I haven’t heard any concerns in terms of performance issues,” said Chung.

But public relations officer at Petrojam, Latoya Pennant, toldThe Sunday Gleaner that it had not received any report of issues relating to the smell of gasolene.

“Petroleum products supplied by the company are rigorously tested by the Bureau of Standards to ensure compliance with stringent specifications outlined in the Government of Jamaica Petroleum Quality Control Act.

“The Bureau of Standards has not notified Petrojam of any instances of failure to meet specifications during its ongoing sampling and certification processes,” said Pennant.

She added: “Some imported petroleum products, including gasolene, will from time to time carry a stronger scent than at other times. Petrojam is not the only importer of gasolene or other petroleum products, and is therefore only in a position to comment in respect of its own products being supplied to the Jamaican market.”

Neither the Bureau of Standards nor the Consumer Affairs Commission has recorded any official complaint about the smell of gas.

In 2015, scores of Jamaican motorists were affected by contaminated gasolene which led to performance issues with their vehicles.

Dubbed the ‘bad gas gaga’, motorists had to spend thousands of dollars to repair damage to their vehicles without any clear indicator yet of what was the cause. Motorists affected by the bad gas are still awaiting compensation for the damage to their vehicles.

carlene.davis@gleanerjm.com